Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

3 things to consider before starting a venture

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear

Yesterday, I received a call from an old friend. I was happy to talk to her after a long time. She told me that she wants to do something different and quit her job since she was not learning anything new over there. It suddenly gave me flashback of four years back. She was same at that time as well. She was doing a well-paid job but never happy, she used to tell me that she wanted to do something more meaningful that could help her grow within. I just thought why she was still craving and not actually doing something. The answer was simple, she needed to lose her fear to live a creative life.

No doubt, when a person starts something on his own or try to go against the norms of society, they face several challenges. One of them is financial security, other is peaceful life and similarly there are many more. I still remember the days when I started my career with CareerGuide, I was confused whether I should opt for starting my own venture or continue doing a job which provided me a stability and a peaceful life. This new venture certainly made me make difficult choices. I had to remain within my tight hand for long durations and still I am in. I was made to choose a simple life over a luxurious one but the good part was that I was working on something that really interested me.

It is to be noted that working on your own never guarantees success. This decision is always full of risks. There are currently 4200 start-ups in India, and many of these will close by next year and many will enter this race. 30% of the start-ups, close within the first year of their operations and many close even after getting large investments. A lot many start-ups don’t even go beyond the idea generation.

But seeing a brighter side, there are many which get recognition in the marketplace. There are many stories of women who believed in their dreams and are now stars of this industry. I believe there are certain factors one should keep in mind before starting their own venture and getting into facing the whole world with an eye of challenge.

1. Double proof your idea

Before laying foundation of your venture, make sure the worth of your idea. Don’t go by on whims and fancies but engage yourself with the actual customer. When I started CareerGuide.com, I talked to hundreds of students and parents and then arrived at an idea which is a success now. If I had not done this, I might have failed in my efforts even after putting into a lot of hard work.

2. Make clarity of financing

This is one of the most important question in the minds of entrepreneurs. Some think that they will survive on the investment money, but to be very frank, nobody invests in you until you show them some success to rely on. Investors have become more cautious these days with their money due to overflowing number of start-ups in the market which at times enter the market only for the purpose of money rather than changing the existing systems.

3. Be ready to enter the world of entrepreneurship

This one is the trickiest of all. One needs to be prepared of several challenges that come in the way. It is no different than a job in terms of challenges, in fact there are more in this field. You have to become you own manager, salesman and accountant. Even if you hire other people, you need to know what is going in which department. You have to spend several sleepless nights to reach even a single milestone.

The road to entrepreneurship even if difficult is not impossible. Many people have achieved great successes in this field by the strength of their single idea. Just let your fear go away before you enter into this.

For details, visit CareerGuide.com

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Startup Pitch: Independent financial advisory firm for corporates unlock their financial needs

Azureus Factus Advisory Services

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Stage: Market Validation

KorpFillips, a product of Azureus group heralding as a trusted corporate advisory service provider, delivers an expert financial advice and ace solutions to a huge array of clients by using expertise knowledge across various verticals of business on global basis. We aid our clients achieve their objective and develop a platform to rely on our analyst’s expertise to access capital from a pool of sources and in a variety of market conditions. KorpFillips advisory services targets a holistic approach to enable its industry-specific services to help clients to unlock their financial needs, improve performance and sustain the results, through our experience from diversified products.

We present ourselves as an ethical, benevolent and customer centric firm, experienced in various verticals of private equity, debt syndication and other forms of financial arrangements for MSME segments. We assist companies in creating a business plan, documentation & consulting for fund raising and market entry/expansion strategies. This includes Investor Presentation/Teaser, Financial forecasting, Market model based on the Company’s existing profile and future growth prospects, etc.

(Please post your press releases directly to appropriate exchange forum and submit startup events using the form.)
(If you are an amazing startup founder or enabler of startup eco-system in India or elsewhere and would like to be interviewed or featured on Startups.in then please read this and this before you reach out)

5 lessons from the successful IPO of India’s most expensive movie, Baahubali

Directed by Koduri Srisaila Sri Rajamouli, popularly known as S. S. Rajamouli, Baahubali is the most expensive film ever made in the history of Indian cinema with a budget of 160 crore rupees (~USD 25 million). The IPO (or rather debut) of the movie today has exceeded expectations and is poised to become the biggest hit in 100 years of Indian films. The epic movie will help SS Rajamouli be recognized as the movie maker who has set new high standards in movie making.
[hero heading=”Baahubali – The Beginning” tagline=”The commitment and perseverance shown by every single individual tied to this project is exemplary.”][/hero]

However, just as it is the case with startups, all this success didn’t come overnight. The success has been in making for more than 3 years. The team behind this epic made several personal sacrifices for it to see the light of the day. The lead actor, Prabhas Raju Uppalapati risked his career and dedicated himself to doing just this single movie over the last couple of years. The commitment and perseverance shown by every single individual tied to this project is exemplary. What they did was no less entrepreneurial than what one would see in startup entrepreneurs. So, here are a few takeaways from Baahubali.

Dream big

First, the easiest part. When you want to make a mark for yourself, start by dreaming big. Have a grand vision.

Plan to succeed

You can plan all you want but also remember that things don’t go as planned. So, don’t despair.

Learn to collaborate

Not all battles can be fought alone. Collaboration is the key to winning. Baahubali is one man’s vision but it had a great team behind. They collaborated with AMD for the VFX, Karan Johar, the biggest presenter to take the movie pan India and many others.

Project confidence

Massive projects take a toll on the best of the best. They drain everyone and everything, be it the energy or resources. But it is very important for the leader to always project excitement and motivate the team by showing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Execution is everything

Having a vision doesn’t suffice. It needs hard work to turn into grand execution. Dreams matter but doers matter more. Dream big, do big.

and here is a bonus –

Be Humble

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(Please post your press releases directly to appropriate exchange forum and submit startup events using the form.)
(If you are an amazing startup founder or enabler of startup eco-system in India or elsewhere and would like to be interviewed or featured on Startups.in then please read this and this before you reach out)

What does it take to become an Entrepreneur?

Fact: You don’t need qualifications, money, a planet-sized-brain or even a particularly good idea. All an entrepreneur ever does is create something that consistently makes money.

Think of a company as a machine you design and build. Here’s McDonalds:

McDonald's Business Machine
McDonald’s Business Machine

Your ‘machine’ always has certain parts. It sells something to someone, and re-invests some of that to help make more sales in future. What’s left over is profit for the owners. Here’s Google:

Google's Business Machine
Google’s Business Machine

If you can design, build, own and care for such a machine, you can become very rich indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but most of the barriers that you think will stop you won’t. Interested?

Let’s talk about you

Are you young, poor, unqualified – a student, or hating your job? Maybe a touch rebellious? Perfect. You have no bad habits, and will work until your fingernails fall out and your eyeballs roll onto the desk. The world awaits you.

Older, wiser, bit of money saved, experienced with a stable job? Maybe a mortgage and kids? Your job is much harder. It can be done, but it might feel like you’re trying to dance backwards through quicksand.

The most important qualities of a good entrepreneur are energy and determination. It doesn’t hurt to be persuasive, but this can be learned. I started as a shy uber-nerd aged 21; I soon learned how to sell when it was the only way to feed myself.

Enough preamble. Let’s make you a bajillion dollars:

The idea

Please forget all of the terrible deluded nonsense you’ve heard about the value of ideas. Ideas are cheap, fleeting things; by itself a business idea is worth less than a half-eaten sandwich. At least you can eat the sandwich.

You do need an idea of course. But understand that even the most successful companies were not founded on wild or brilliant ideas. Starbucks chose the brazen path of selling coffee in Seattle. Facebook built a better MySpace. Google built a better Yahoo search. Microsoft copied Apple – who copied Xerox.

Original ideas are overrated. What isn’t overrated is timing. Google chose the perfect time to build a better search engine – good luck trying to do that now *cough* Bing *cough*. What you want, therefore, is an astute awareness of a need that is currently underrepresented in the market. You want to spot a product or service that can go places – original or not. It’s usually easier to refine an existing idea that isn’t fully realised than to create a wholly original one.

People fear setting up a business wherever there’s competition, but competition can be a good thing. The best place to setup a new restaurant is right next to another successful restaurant; they’ve kindly done the hard work for you of building an audience. Many a good business has ridden to success on the coattails of another – it is usually better to have some rivals over none. You just need to become 10% better.

I personally recommend trying to deliver something that you and your friends would buy in a heartbeat. You’ll know more about your field, you’ll understand your customers, and you’ll be passionate about what you do. If you can make your company about a why – not a what – you’ll inspire yourself and those around you. And to survive the next step, you need a fair sprinkle of inspiration:

Starting

Starting a company is a bit like parenting; everyone assumes you know what you’re doing, but babies and companies don’t come with instruction manuals. You stumble through it, learning as you go.

It’s at the start where you’re most likely to fail. Your aim is to build that magical money-making machine, but you probably don’t have all the parts and the ones that you need may cost more than you have. Your idea is probably at least half wrong too, but you won’t know which half yet. All of this is normal.

Customers Wanted
Customers Wanted

A big part of starting a company is convincing people to believe in you before they probably should. When Steve Jobs founded Apple, he had no money and no customers; what he did next is the hallmark of a great entrepreneur. First he convinced a local computer store to order his non-existent Apple computers, with payment on delivery. He then convinced a parts supplier to sell him the components he needed to build them – using the order he just obtained as proof he would be able to pay them back. Jobs and a small team worked in their garage to build the first computers, delivered them on time and made a tidy profit. Apple was born from nothing.

apple

Most new entrepreneurs play a few gambits early on like this. If it sounds scary, that’s because it is. I once had to pay staff salaries on my heavily burdened credit cards when an early order fell through. You fake it until you make it.

While doing all this you need to juggle between making the perfect company (idealist) and paying your bills (realist) – an absence of either will eventually kill you. I believe it’s one reason why realist / idealist partnerships are so common in business.

Do not scale prematurely. Don’t try to be a big company early on – just aim to be one. Be slow to spend and to hire at first. Don’t waste time writing mission statements and policy documents. You’re small, nimble and on a mission. Make and sell things. There’ll be time for a HR department later.

Don’t be surprised if you change your company entirely. It’s a rare business that survives first contact with its customers. Try to avoid doing this more than once though, it doesn’t pay well.

Survive long enough, reinvest your meagre successes and compound them. Eventually, you can move on to:

Extracting yourself

This is the step most small businesses never accomplish.

Up until now, your magical business machine almost certainly contains one irreplaceable part: you. If your background is accounts, you’re probably the head accountant. If you’re a programmer, you’re probably the best coder. Whatever you do, chances are you’ll feel essential and somewhat overworked.

Extract Yourself

Here’s the hard part: you need to make yourself redundant. If you dropped dead tomorrow, your business should carry on working just fine. All of your time needs to be spent working on your business, not for your business. The alternative is you’re basically self-employed with assistants.

Some businesses can’t escape this trap. If you’re a brilliant copywriter – say – you’ll struggle. It’s because what makes you a great company is you, and unless you can bottle up you into a business model, you can’t grow.

McDonalds built a business that works even if they hire almost entirely minimum wage workers. Their process makes it work: every burger is efficient and nearly indistinct, and nothing is left to chance. Their brand is so strong people line up worldwide to eat there. Your business may be radically different, but it should be similarly robust.

If you accomplish this, you now own something that is self-sustaining. You should be able to pull a good salary even if you never go into work. Your time is now free to tweak your business endlessly into something better. Now to conquer the world, all you need to do is:

Scale

The final step is a bit like playing Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Each question you get right doubles your money, or you’re going home.

billionaire

Do not make the naive mistake of assuming a big company is like a small one but bigger. Oh, nevermind. That’s like telling your kids to listen to you, really, drinking doesn’t make you cool. You’ll learn the hard way.

As a company grows the rules and your culture change completely. You may even find yourself disliking the company you created (many founders feel conflicted like this, eventually). If you’ve made it this far, you have many options: hire help, sell, or double-down and see where the ride takes you.

Remember no business can grow indefinitely. Most industries are more efficient at different sizes – it’s easy to be a two-man plumbing company, but near impossible to build a 1,000 man plumbing corporation. Know the limits of yours well in advance. Software is an example of an industry that scales exceedingly well, which is why it creates so many young billionaires.

And finally

It’s never been easier to start a company. You can create a killer product in your student dorm without even registering any paperwork – that was enough for Facebook.

I think entrepreneurship is a form of enlightened gambling. Skill and tenacity are big factors, but luck plays a big part. However, as long as you can keep picking yourself up when you get knocked down, try different things and keep learning, the odds are in your favour. You just have to dare to chance them.

Tips you can use to succeed at your startup

The November edition of Fab magazine featured an interview with Dave Brailsford, who coached UK’s cycling team and was very much the man-in-charge for making sure they win as many gold medals as they can at the 2012 London Olympics. Amazingly, the team swept off with 8 Gold medals and here is an interview with the coach who made it all possible.

In that interview, he had some great advice which can be applied not just in sports but also in your startups. Here is a compilation.

Pic Credit: Flickr
Pic Credit: Flickr

1. Differentiate between dreams and targets

A dream is what we want to happen while a target is something we can make happen. So, focus on setting specific targets to help realize your dreams as these will form the building blocks of performance and will all be within your control. You can make them happen if you choose to do so.

2. Bad things happen quickly and good things take time

In this era of instant gratification we want good things to happen quickly but we must also recognize that good and great things take time. So, it is OK for certain things to build slowly. As long as you put in the effort, you will get there. You can’t start something new today and expect something great to happen tomorrow – it takes time.

3. Give people ownership and responsibility

If you want to get the best out of people, don’t be control freak. People respond better when they are given the ownership of what they’re doing. Commitment is a great virtue.

4. Understand the difference between logic and emotion

Stick to your game plan. Rather than basing your decisions purely on emotional reactions, take a step back and try to use the logical path within your brain. You will have a much better chance of success.

5. Plan, review, do

With any task or performance – good or bad; you should go through a straightforward cycle of (i) planning what you’re going to do (ii) doing it (iii) reviewing what you’ve just done (iv) and then putting all that learning into your next plan. All you can do is be your best and strive for personal excellence. If a performance doesn’t go to plan, it’s not about screaming and shouting, it’s about what we can learn from it.

Be the best you can be, you are in charge of that. Take charge.

(If you are an Indian startup and would like to be interviewed or featured on Startups.in then we’d be happy to talk to you. Contact us right away.)
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Recipe for a Great “Startup”

This post is based mostly on an interview I’ve given to Outlook sometime early this year. I’ve long wanted to publish it on Startups.in but for the other things that keep me occupied.

In any case here we go.

Before we get to the interview, there is one thing that I’d like to mention.

There is no single recipe to forming a great “Startup”. Yes, you have heard(read) it right – there is no single recipe to forming a great “Startup”.

If we look around, we can come across cases where mega corps with big bucks and huge resources have failed, while a small team of two or perhaps three individuals with little or no resources to start with have took the same idea to mega success. To quote an example. Microsoft vs Google in how they executed the “Search” engine.

Way before Google came onto the scene, Microsoft (and even Yahoo, Excite and the likes) with their huge deep pockets could not revolutionize the search engine space while a relatively unknown team of two bright kids studying in Stanford and with absolutely no resources executed a simple idea so well, which ended up in the form of Google that we all know today.

The point again being, there is no “single” recipe to a successful startup. If there is one such, then we would all be seeing and hearing only to stories of successful startups and everyone would be quitting their jobs to startup.

As with any other food recipe, the secret is to experiment time and again until it works for you and the people around you love it.

So, “Startups” are only for those who can persist and have the courage and determination. It is not for people faint at heart.

Rewards and success are only a natural outcome but is not something that motivates true entrepreneurs. What drives an entrepreneur is the passion to innovate.

With that said, let’s begin the interview.

[OL] Please mention the steps which one needs to follow to have a business up and running, starting from the ideation stage. I would like to have an idea of each of the main steps and what it involves. Any tips/strategies?

[Nag.B] In general and at a minimum, one would of course need an idea. While ideas as they say are dime a dozen, what truly differentiates is the execution. Execution would require a proper planning and a great team.

So, forming a team would be the next step.

While a comprehensive business plan might not be a mandatory requirement at this stage, it is always good to have

a good understanding of your goals, vision and mission and of course, the economics associated with your business.

Naming, formalizing and legalizing the business (incorporation etc.)  would be next logical step. Again, while it might or might not be a mandatory depending on the business you are in and the city where you conduct your business, it is something that would have to be done eventually. So, just get it done. Also, pay due diligence when branding a product/business or service. Proper branding always helps.

Next comes execution. This is where you set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd. I can’t stress enough on its importance. Also, be ready to change your strategy and business model, if you realize that things aren’t working as expected. Entrepreneurs should learn to be flexible, adaptive and willing to learn from mistakes.

Also, make sure you keep into consideration the requirement to scale your business in future right during the execution stage. There have been many startups which failed as they couldn’t scale.

Stage of growth:  As your business grows, so would your funding needs. If you can sustain with the revenues being generated by your startup, then well and good. If not, be prepared to raise funding. Raising capital can be a herculean task, so plan accordingly.

Exit strategy:  No, I don’t mean exit strategy for your startup but rather an exit strategy for you as “<fill in your role here>”. It could be exiting as a founder, CEO, CxO or what ever role you took on initially. Not many startup founders like the idea of giving up their title. But a true entrepreneur would know when the time is right to bring in a more seasoned professional to grow the company. No one entrepreneur can handle it all – sales, marketing, hiring and all the

other departments. So, be prepared to bring in a change.

2. What are the different funding options for startups? Do certain ideas lend them to certain funding options? For example do ideas in the Tech space lend themselves to investments from VCs? How does one find out what is the best funding option for his business?

Let’s take this one at a time.

First, the available options . This varies depending on the stage of startup. For seed funding, the usual option is to dip into the the savings or turn to the most obvious choice for many a entrepreneur and is what is usually termed as “FFF” option; meaning “Friends”, “Family” and “Fools” 🙂

Other option would be to go with small business loans provided by many banks and/or government agencies or approach Angel investors.

During growth stage where the requirement is usually on a higher scale, the startups can look at raising Venture Capital.

Each of these come with their associated risk/rewards. So, it is utmost important to explore and understand all the options really well.

Now onto the other part of your question. Ideas opening to funding avenue – do ideas in the Tech space lend

themselves to investments from VCs?

Well, not exactly. But what I would rather say is startups in a particular industry might interest a particular segment of investors. For example, startups in solar industry have a chance of evincing more interest when they approach investors with a past investment history in that sector.

( Related: Expert Advice on Why You Could Fail to Get Funded )

Finally, as to how does one find what is the best option? As a general rule of thumb, DO NOT raise OUTSIDE capital unless you absolutely must.

You can also consult with seasoned entrepreneurs or experienced people in the industry. You’d be surprised, but most people are willing to help only if you’d ask for it.

3. Can we say that some ideas work better during recession or does every idea work when properly implemented? What is it that one should keep in mind when starting a business during times such as these?

Yes and No.

Yes, because it is easier to find excellent resources for less during recession. So, recession could in fact be a good time to startup.

No, not every idea would work during recession even when “properly implemented”. You’d have to have an exceptional strategy and an equally outstanding implementation to turn dust into gold during times of recession.

4. What are the several ways a startup can look to reduce cost as far as initial and working capital is concerned? Please mention a few actionable areas.

If there are somethings better done and done for less when outsourced, then do not hesitate to do so.

Also, you don’t have to spend a fortune on marketing unless you build a product that people don’t like or understand and you are trying to push it onto them. If not, bank on viral marketing as much as possible.

5. Please describe the startup ecosystem in the country. What are the different resources that are available for a startup? Please give an idea of resources like startup consultants, barcamps, startup networks, incubators, blogs, forums etc, that one needs to be tuned into. How does one increase visibility/stay connected and whom does one turn to for the help and advice?

Unfortunately, in our country we still have a long way to go before claiming that the startup ecosystem in India is comparable to the one in other developed nations. With the exception of very few un-conferences and also some universities and colleges which have their own entrepreneurship cells, there aren’t (m)any that truly deserve a

mention. Most of the so called networks and incubators are out there exploiting people and taking them for a ride. Rest of them have their own agenda.

As in any other case, the people would have to mindful of what they are getting into. In this day and age, ones best friend is the Internet. Do your due diligence and spend sometime researching online to know the good and bad about each resource.

Needless to say, the best advice, connections, visibility are all possible on Internet.

6. How can one find out if one has it in him or her to start a business? What is it that he should ask himself to find out? Is there a checklist one can go through to find out? (which could explore both personal and financial traits of a person?)

This is a huge topic in itself but Robert Sullivan, the author of “Small Business Startup Guide” has a great checklist which is a must read.

Also, check out the following set of questions for entrepreneurs originally published on Forbes.

(If you are an Indian startup and would like to be interviewed or featured on Startups.in then we’d be happy to talk to you. Contact us right away.)